By Brian Garrido
The Philippines Cultural Community Center opened in 2021 on Indianapolis’ southside, and the vibrant and welcoming destination has become a testament to the Filipino community’s effort to showcase its heritage in the Midwest. The dream of Indianapolis-raised executive director Philip Smith, who was adopted by Hoosier missionaries, the center is a welcoming space that provides an opportunity to learn about Filipino culture.
The history of Filipinos in Indianapolis traces back to the 1960s, when the Barangay Club of Indiana was established, with many professionals and students migrating from Chicago in search of employment opportunities. Today, Indianapolis is home to a significant Filipino population.
Since its opening, the Philippines Cultural Community Center has expanded in influence. It offers scholarship programs for Filipino-American youth, ensuring they can pursue their dreams while staying connected to their roots. Cultural exchanges and partnerships with other community organizations enrich the center’s offerings.
“The center is about community,” said Smith, “and is open to everyone from all ethnicities and backgrounds.”
Inside the center, a rich tapestry of Filipino culture thrives. Traditional dance and music classes fill the air with lively rhythms, colorful costumes and cultural pride. Families gather to share stories, laughter and mouthwatering Filipino dishes such as adobo, sinigang and lumpia. The center also hosts celebrations of Filipino festivals and holidays, fostering a sense of unity among generations and the greater community as well.
Open to the public, the center welcomes anyone interested in learning about the Philippines, its culture and its people. Every Saturday, it hosts a Filipino market, providing a platform for entrepreneurs and craftspeople from all walks of life to showcase their crafts and food. The center’s inclusivity is reflected in its diverse board members and volunteers, including individuals from different ethnic backgrounds who share a passion for Filipino culture.
One of the center’s essential and primary missions is giving back to the larger community. Members engage in outreach programs, volunteering time and resources to support those in need. Opening its doors to all ensures that the vibrant tapestry of Filipino culture continues to enrich the Indianapolis community.